Toast Technique
May 8, 2012
Playlist #12: Wes Anderson
January 25, 2013

Playlist #11: James Brown

I was lucky enough to see the Godfather of Soul at the Hollywood Bowl before he passed on. It was 2003, he was 70 years old, and he was still blowing up the stage with his signature dance moves complete with the splits. I’m 33 and sometimes I can barely touch my toes. But I digress. James Brown’s place in T’s Top Ten infamy has been a long time coming. His catalog is immense and limiting the jams to only 10 is tough. But you know what? I feel good…

  1. Get Up Offa That ThingPlay this song at any party when you want to take it to the next level. The message is simple: dance till you feel better. It’s tough to argue with that, especially when the beat’s this funky.
  2. It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s WorldJB gets raw and soulful in this homage to the better sex. Instrumentally, it’s as parsed down as he gets which makes it a great song to really soak in his vocal range. In case you had any doubts.
  3. Papa Don’t Take No MessOh the bygone days when a Papa could just knock his children into line. Alas. The song was originally released as a 4:23 single in 1974 but if that’s not enough of Papa not taking mess for you, there’s a 14 minute version on the album “Hell”.
  4. The PaybackLike Papa Don’t Take No Mess, this song too was rejected from appearing on the soundtrack to the Blaxploitation film “Hell Up In Harlem” for not being funky enough. Apparently it was funky enough for En Vogue who sampled it on 2 of their biggest hits: Hold On and My Lovin’.
  5. Think 73This groovy funky morsel was a cover of The 5 Royales song and originally recorded by Brown in 1960. But I like the rerecorded version that came out in 73, mostly because I’m a nerd and it sounds better.
  6. Get Up (Sex Machine)I’ve played this at more gigs than I can count. And from weddings to clubs to art parties, if this song is on, people are usually dancing. And if not, your crowd may be funk-less.
  7. Hot Pants Sometimes inspiration comes from the most random places. To quote Wikipedia “the song’s lyrics are an ode to the captivating power of the title garment, which members of the band first saw on their 1970 European tour.” Now to quote James Brown when he saw said garment “Aaaaaoooouuuuuu!”
  8. Just Won’t Do RightMade in 1958 while he was still recording for Federal Records, the song showcases his vocal backing group The Famous Flames. It’s arranged like a classic oldies track and reminds you of just how long and a carrier Brown had.
  9. Further On Up The RoadEvery T’s Top Ten list contains a track that I hadn’t discovered until I started reviewing all of the music from that artist. This is that track. I love the use of horns and the restrained but undeniable funk.
  10. Please Please PleaseWhat was probably written as a plea for a lost lover’s return sounds to modern ears more like an entire populace begging JB not to depart the earthly realm, that we’re not as funky or rhythmic as when he was alive. Or maybe that’s just me.